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Cebrating 10 Years of Freedom
South Africa's 10th Freedom Day Marked
with Gala Fashion Show, Concert, Food Festival
Zulu dancers performing in Freedom Day celebration   UN News Song Hyo-Chan
Marking a decade of freedom and democracy South African Embassy staged a series of cultural events including South Africa's unique fashion show, traditional percussion music and dances, and food festival at Gran Hyatt Seoul on April 27, 2004. The theme of the celebration was "a people united for a better South Africa and a better world."

Over 500 local and foreign guests were invited to the gala celebration "Celebration of South Africa's 10th Anniversary of Freedom Day," at the hotel's Grand Ballroom on the South Africa's national holiday Freedom Day. Thrown by His Excellency Sydney B. Kubheka and his wife special banquet included South African cuisine prepared by chefs flown from Hyatt Hotel-Johannesburg. Dignitaries in the banquet.

Among the participating dignitaries were Malaysian Amb. DatoM. Santhananaban, Algerian Amb. Ahmed Boutache, Libyan Amb. Ahmed. M. Tabuli, Moroccan Amb. Jaafar Alj Hakim, Tunisian Amb. Othman Jerandi, Ghana Amb. E. Obeng Kufuor, Honorary Consul-General of Pakistan Kim Young-Il, Agricultural Minister Huh Sang-Man, Koran fashion guru Andre Kim.

Amb. Sydney B. Kubheka annonuces the start of Freedom Day celebrations. UN News Song Hyo-Chan
In the ceremony Amb. Kubheka said that its Seoul Embassy is hosting the cultural events officially dubbed "South African Celebration of Freedom through Culture and Fashion" to observe the great stride of its people in earning freedom and democracy from the yokes of apartheid of racial segregation and social conflicts. Prior to the main banquet and ceremony a welcoming cocktail reception began at 6:30 p.m. and lasted until 7:00 p.m. in the hotel's Regency Room, Mr. and Mrs. ambassador hosted both reception and the hour-long gala dinner.

The dinner was accompanied by special performances by Zulu dancers and drummers called UMOJA. The strong beat of drum and powerful dances of the traditional percussion troupe fascinated all the guests with its seven members in a traditional garment and makeup.

Concerts started at 8 p.m. and lasted until 9:30 p.m. Performers include such celebrity entertainers as Thapelo Mofokeng and Phinda Mtya. Regarded by many as South Africa's most eminent jazz and blues musician, Thapelo Mofokeng kept the diners amused through the celebrations. Mofokeng has brushed shoulders with Bill Cosby and Sammy Davis for the past three decades.

Mtya was equally passionate, leaving all the participants captivated by her intoning. She also sang Korean traditional tune Arirang in Korean language. Mtya is well-known South African singer who played as monkey character Rafiki in the animation blockbuster "The Lion King."

Of particular interest was South Africa's unique fashion show staged after the dinner party by MEROPA Heritage, a South Africa's fashion management company.

Director Henshall (right) with Claire Sabbagha   UN News Song Hyo-Chan
Led by Director Judy Henshall, co-owner of the fashion group, South African models presented unique combination of fashion show between Africa's tradition and its modern technology under the title of "the Culture through Couture." Henshall is also president of Bongani Creations, sister company of MEROPA Heritage.

South Africa's tribal costumes made by MEROPA designers with beautiful hand-woven fabrics for traditional wedding were also be shown by South African models assisted by local models of Model Line agency.

A total of 78 garments were introduced to local people, representing each culture of South Africa's nine different tribes including Zulu, Ndebele, Tsonga, and Xhosa. Its Constitution provides for 11 official languages including Afrikaans, English, and isiZulu.

"We are bring our living cultures to the people of Korea." said Henshall "We are putting our beautiful traditional arts into modern garments and show them to Korean people."

Hensahll said that the fashion gala will symbolize its unique beauty of the country with a dynamic fusion of Africa, European, and Asian influences. The whole process was aired live by a local fashion television Dongah TV.

"Koreans are lovely people, very hospitable, they make us feel at home." said Claire Sabbagha, one of the models accompanying Henshall. "Also Korean models working with us are very professional." Sabbagha was crowned as Miss South Africa's first princess in 2002. Other models include Babalwa Mueno and Dianne Mura, South Africa's top cat walkers.

Sabbagha, Miss South Africa, wears a traditional costume.
Inspired by its central theme of Africa's heritage, the MEROPA's fashion shows were highly acclaimed in world's major events including the one at 2003 Washington Chamber of Commerce Emerging Innovations Show, 2002 MEROPA Show in Birmingham, Alabama, one at African Union Summit and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa.

Separate from the main event on the day, "South Africa's Food and Wine" had already been underway at Grand Hyatt since April 15, 2004 as parts of its Freedom Day cultural events. For the cuisine feast two highly qualified authentic chefs — Mark Eardley and Tazma Dlomo Mkwena from Hyatt Hotel-Johannesburg had to be flown in Seoul from the African country.

The weeklong cuisine festival culminated in the evening banquet on April 27, 2004. One of the most well-known wine countries in the world, South Africa's wine making history harks back to over three centuries.

The "Land of Gold Platinum and Diamonds" is gearing up for hosting 2010 World Cup as the chances of its holding the soccer game are getting higher and higher. If successful, South African will become the first African nation to hold the global soccer event.

Related Articles
    “Freedom Day” Marked in Seoul
    S. Africa Marks Freedom Day with Reception
    South Africa Marks Freedom Day with Reception
    South Africa Marks 10th Freedom Day

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